Last Chance To See Dale Chihuly Glass At Kew Gardens

By Kristen Bailey | 19 December 2005
Large glass sculpture resembling the sun, made of hundreds of twisty glass 'rays' in yellow, blue, orange and white.

Photo: The Sun at Kew Gardens, 2005. © 24 Hour Museum

From our Archives - note that this event is no longer open

Kristen Bailey is blown away by Gardens of Glass - glassmaker Dale Chihuly's installations at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, until January 15 2006.

Kew’s 300-acre garden landscape and great glasshouses have been transformed by a spectacular installation of colourful glass sculptures, the work of American glass artist Dale Chihuly.

Several large blue glass bowls sitting in a flower bed among cacti.

Photo: Blue Baskets, 2005. © 24 Hour Museum.

Some are sited in open spaces where they make an impact both from a distance and from close-up. Smaller pieces sit in greenhouse plant beds or float in pools.

Some catch the eye straight away, and others look so much like plants it takes a while to spot them.

Tall, leave-shaped glass pieces in cream and purple stuck in a flower bed among leafy plants.

Photo: Purple Feathers, 2005. © 24 Hour Museum

Most breathtaking are the monumental sculptures which are formed out of thousands of pieces of hand-blown glass and assembled on site.

Standing at the entrance to the Princess of Wales Conservatory, the Sun at Kew Gardens sculpture has become iconic. How could it not – 907kg of multicoloured glass tentacles supported by 1179kg of armature, four metres wide and over four metres high. It’s stunning.

Several pieces of twisted hand-blown glass in yellow, orange and blue.

Photo: The Sun at Kew Gardens, 2005 (detail). © 24 Hour Museum

“Dale Chihuly creates glass sculpture on an unrivalled scale - a scale to match the majestic environment of Kew,” says Professor Sir Peter Crane, Director of RBG Kew.

“Wherever Chihuly and his team work they create a fantastic sense of excitement.”

Boat full of colourful glass pieces, floating on a pond in front of a fountain.

Photo: Thames Skiff, 2005. © 24 Hour Museum

Sculptures can be found in the Princess of Wales Conservatory, the Temperate House and the Palm House, and a traditional Thames skiff full of glassworks floats on the Palm House pond. It’s a popular piece – not least with the coots who have made their nest in it.

The White Peaks gallery space displays smaller examples of Chihuly’s work alongside sketchbook pages and working drawings. There’s also a fascinating video running, which documents Chilhuly’s design and production processes and highlights some of his previous site-specific installations.

Intricate glass sculpture made of dozens of twisty pieces of glass in shades of blue and purple, supported by four metal poles.

Photo: End of the Day Chandelier, 2005. © 24 Hour Museum

Don’t miss your chance to see this beautiful and innovative exhibition – perfect for a crisp, sunny winter’s day.

It’s free with entry to the Royal Botanic Gardens. To find out more, visit the Gardens Of Glass: Chilhuly At Kew website.

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